The owners of a successful pair of organic-themed downtown coffee shops are venturing into a new frontier — home-delivered healthful snacks like “Organic Applie Pie.”
That concoction — a cup of organic dried apples with just a touch of sweetness; gleaming chocolate-covered raisins; a smattering of almonds— is one of more than 25 healthful options Gabi Merayo and her husband Nebya Shewaye have put together for sale through “B-Natural Snacks,” a delivery subscription service for granolas, nut and fruit mixes and protein bars.
The new venture grows out of, and operates from, the couple’s B-Natural coffee shop/restaurants.
“It’s one of our favorites,“ Merayo said of the Apple Pie flavor, standing amidst dozens of samples at the B-Natural Snacks launch event this past Friday evening. “You don’t feel guilty.”
Merayo and Shewaye, who have run B-Natural’s two brick-and-mortar locations at 97 Orange St. and 1044 Chapel St. for 12 years, are looking to the new business model as a way of organically growing their enterprise. They tout the operation as New England’s “first snack subscription service.”
The new arm of B-Natural touts a fresh approach: all ingredients are prepared in-shop upon being ordered online, and delivered rapidly right to your home, dorm or office. Avid snackers can customize their options (not a fan of apples? The “Organic Pina Colada” features the brightness of dried pineapple, toned down by creamy white chocolate and cashews) and how frequently they receive said snacks (weekly, bi-weekly or monthly). The website currently features free shipping in the United States.
B-Natural looks to stand out by being in line with B-Natural’s original all-natural, organic mission: all of the snacks are preservative-free.
The original cafe was a departure for the couple, who met while studying at Southern Connecticut State University. Merayo, who had moved to New Haven from Costa Rica, was a former Spanish teacher, while Shewaye, originally from Ethiopia, had joined his brother and uncle in Queens before pursuing a degree. Shewaye counts his time working at Atticus Cafe and Bookstore as all the prior industry knowledge he had before they opened up shop.
The first location, which opened in the Ninth Square location in 2004 as Woodland Coffee and Tea, was really the only cafe in that part of downtown at the time, Shewaye recalled.
“The slice of pie gets smaller and smaller,” he observed, at the proliferation of such coffee shops downtown since then.
Now, with three children in tow, the family looks inward at expanding the business. Merayo said B-Natural Snacks was prompted by a need to feed their two daughter and one son with nutritious, energy-filled snacks. After two years, the plan has finally come to fruition.
The couple already has a plan for expanding the line: In addition to frequently adding new flavors and options, they’re looking to package the snacks in kid-friendly sizes, saving parents (perhaps themselves) a little time.
To listen to an interview with Shewaye, click on or download the audio above. “Open for Business” is supported by Frontier Communications. Frontier is proud to be Connecticut’s hometown provider of TV, Internet and Phone for your home and business.